Turkey celebrates 100th anniversary of Çanakkale Victory

Turkey celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Çanakkale Naval Victory, and the Gallipoli Campaign, which was one of the bloodiest battles of World War I

News Service Yeni Şafak

The top leaders of Turkey released messages regarding the Naval Victory of the Gallipoli Campaign, widely known as Çanakkale War in the country, and joined the celebrating ceremonies along with thousands of people across the country.

The 100th anniversary of March 18, 1915 – the day which would later be celebrated in Turkey as "Çanakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day" – has brought together thousands of people across the country and abroad. 

This poignant day of remembrance marks the cataclysmic, months-long violence of the Gallipoli Campaign when Ottoman forces suffered huge losses defending Turkish shores from the invading Allies in WWI.

Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan celebrates the day with a released massage and emphasized the need to keep unity and solidarity.

"It is only by embracing our country, flag, unity and solidarity that we can pay our debt of gratitude to hundreds of thousands of martyrs lying in Gallipoli," he said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also emphasized the significance of the national unity and brotherhood on the Anatolian soil as the key to the Çanakkale Victory of 1915.

“This blessed war recalls the importance of national unity and solidarity to the minds of our nation” Davutoğlu said during his speech to the crowd in the western province of Çanakkale gathered for the celebration.

At the commemoration ceremony for the 100th anniversary of Çanakkale Victory Day -- the battle which marked a turnaround in favor of the Turks against the Allied Forces during World War I, Davutoğlu noted that their ancestors who died in Çanakkale had displayed the main quality of Turkey's future: "brotherhood," which he called a holy legacy.

During the battle against enemies in the trenches, the premier said people from Iraq, Syria, Balkans and Azerbaijan had fought shoulder to shoulder so as not to leave Istanbul - capital of the Ottoman Empire - at the hands of the Allies.

He stressed that the faith of neighbors and once Ottoman territories Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan and the Balkans was "entrusted to the merciful and caressing hands of the Republic of Turkey."

In a clear reference to current crises in the region, Davutoğlu also pledged to stand against those who oppress the grandsons of the Çanakkale martyrs that came from Aleppo, Al-Quds (Jerusalem), Kirkuk, Basra and Baku.

The victory against the Allied Forces gave Turkey a massive moral boost that enabled it to wage a war of independence and eventually, in 1923, form a republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Speaking during the ceremony, the Garrison Commander Rear Admiral Hasan Nihat Doğan stressed that the victory had been gained by the bravery and steadfastness of the Turkish soldiers.

“The Çanakkale victory had major effects, not only for the Turkish history but also for the history of the whole world," Doğan said.

"This land, Çanakkale, is a gift to us from a generation who sacrificed their life and we will protect this gift at the cost of our lives," he said.

Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, as well as Education Minister Nabi Avcı and Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç were also present at the ceremony.

The campaign is accepted as one of the greatest Ottoman victories during World War I and a major Allied Forces failure -- but there were many casualties on both sides after eight months of fighting.

Around 13,000 New Zealanders and 50,000 Australians fought during the war, and at least 2,700 New Zealanders and 8,700 Australians were killed.

Ottoman forces lost almost 60,000 soldiers. Around 1,700 Indian soldiers, fighting for the British crown, also lost their lives.


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